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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Hamas slams Israeli ‘blackmail’ as it continues to block Gaza aid


According to news reports, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar demanded the immediate transfer of the monthly Qatari grant. 

Hama leader Yahya Sinwar has warned Israel to allow the transfer of a monthly Qatari allowance worth $30mn or face escalation, Al Jazeera reported, suggesting authorities are blocking the aid to blackmail Palestinians.

In a meeting over Gaza’s humanitarian situation on Sunday, Sinwar pressed United Nations (UN) Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland and demanded that the aid be transferred immediately.

However, Sinwar said the meeting was a failure, and that it was not at all positive.

In a press statement, the Hamas official said the UN delegation “listened to us with interest and deep concerns, but unfortunately there are no indications of any good intentions toward solving the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip”

“The criminal [Israeli] occupation continues to practice its policies against us and is trying to blackmail us on the issue of relieving our people of the situation,” said the Hamas leader.

He also added that various Palestinian factions will now meet to discuss their next steps.

Meanwhile, an Israeli delegation is due to visit Egypt in the coming days to discuss ways of transferring money from Qatar.

Sinwar also accused Israel of keeping out aid from Qatar. According to Qatar-based media outlet Al Araby Al Jadeed, Israel has refused to allow fuel paid for by Qatar to enter the Gaza Strip for over a month.

Read also: Qatari aid to Gaza to be transferred through United Nations: reports

Meanwhile, a report on Saturday suggested the UN has now also stepped in to facilitate the delivery and transfer of Qatari aid to Gaza according to a newly changed transfer mechanism.

In May, Israeli authorities announced they would study the possibility of changing logistics for the entry of Qatari aid into Gaza. Israel later demanded Qatar to directly deposit all donations to the Palestinian Authority (PA) or international organisations.

However, recents report said the PA would no longer be involved in the transfer of the Qatari cash to the besieged enclave, and that it would be done through the UN instead, the Times of Israel reported.

Aid to the Gaza Strip was previously sent in suitcases of cash. This has now changed and will instead reach the Strip through “other means”, although the report failed to mention any more details.

Tel Aviv has refused to allow the transfer of millions of dollars, claiming it would go towards Hamas, which runs the enclave. Senior Qatari officials as well as Hamas leaders have refuted those claims.

The refusal to transfer aid earlier this month prompted Hamas to send warnings that it would revive the Great March of Return border fence protests if aid does not enter Gaza.

According to Israeli reports, delays in receiving the latest installations of aid have contributed to the renewal of Hamas’ incendiary balloon attacks.

Israel responded to the balloon attacks by launching renewed airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, breaking a ceasefire with Hamas that was recently brokered by Egypt and Qatar.

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